Five Thousand Year History of the Sea Published

book covers

By The Maritime Executive 2017-04-20 20:55:05

The 5,000 year of history of the sea has been Documented by over 260 Experts through a five-year Project by Océanides.

The four volume The Sea in History provides decision-makers and other ocean stakeholders with a comprehensive understanding of the interaction between humankind and the ocean, says the World Ocean Council (WOC). The WOC is working to keep the ocean business community and other ocean stakeholders informed of, and linked to, the ocean economy and culture as part of advancing ocean sustainable development.

The Sea in History - The Ancient World ranges very widely in its coverage, beginning with pre-historical maritime activity and going on to cover not only the classical Greek and Roman Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds but also Africa, Asia and the Americas. Fascinating subjects covered include the migration of the Taíno people in the pre-historic Caribbean, the Athenian maritime empire at its height, the port of Alexandria in classical times, and ships, sailors and kingdoms in ancient Southeast Asia.

The Sea in History - The Medieval World covers the period from the end of the Roman Empire in the West up to around the year 1500. It demonstrates that for many peoples and states in this period the sea was central to their existence - the Vikings, the Hanse, Venice, Genoa, the Normans - and it shows also how important the sea was for states which are not normally thought of as maritime powers, such as Byzantium, the Crusader states and the Mongol Empire.

The book is global in its coverage, including material on East and Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa, with particularly interesting material on China's extensive voyages of exploration in the fifteenth century, the role of the Vikings in the early formation of Russia, and on the building of ships, appropriate to local conditions, in different parts of the world.

The Sea in History - The Early Modern World covers the period from around the end of the fifteenth century up to the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. It examines the establishment and growth of 'the Atlantic World', but also considers maritime developments in the Indian Ocean, Southeast and East Asia and Africa, and highlights the continuing importance of the North Sea and the Baltic.

A very wide range of maritime subjects is explored including trade, which went through a huge global expansion in this period; fishing; shipping, shipbuilding, navigation and ports; the role of the sea in the dissemination of religious ideas; the nature of life for sailors in different places and periods; and the impact of trade in particularly important commodities, including wine, slaves, sugar and tobacco. One particularly interesting chapter is on the Hanse, the important maritime commercial 'empire' based in north Germany, which extended much more widely than is often realized and whose significance and huge impact have often been overlooked.

The Sea in History - The Modern World covers the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when the global reach of major powers frequently brought them into conflict with each other, including conflict at sea. The many major wars at sea of the period are discussed, as are the planning and strategic thinking of the major powers in cases both where war followed and where it did not, and in addition the role and thinking of less important powers such as Portugal and Denmark are analyzed.

The book considers how in this first great age of globalization seaborne trade helped many countries to prosperity by participation in the global economy, a process halted by the First World War and not resumed until the 1950s. The book also examines maritime resources including fishing and whaling; ships, shipbuilding, ports and navigation; and the logistics of supporting long distance maritime activity. One very interesting chapter on late imperial China shows how China's then failure to take maritime issues seriously was a major factor in the empire's collapse.

Hervé Guillou, CEO of DCNS, one of Océanides’ main donors, stated, “These impressive books confirm the importance of the ocean in human development through history. They illustrate the key role of the ocean economic activity in providing transport, food, energy and other goods and services essential to civilization. The future of the ocean depends of the efforts and ability of leadership companies to collaborate in addressing sustainable development.”

Neil Baird, Chairman, World Ocean Council, and member of the Committee of Honour of the Oceanides association, added: “Having always been obsessed with the sea, ships, boats, maritime history and the marine environment, I find it difficult to understand why, apparently, the vast majority of the world’s population are almost completely disinterested in such matters. To me, maritime matters are the most important things affecting our planet. After all, the seas cover some seventy percent of it.”

Ocean experts from 40 countries and across the disciplines worked for five years to examine and compile the history of the sea through geographical, political and economic lenses. Their results document how the ocean has been, and will continue to be, a key driving force of human development - and that human activity, and how it is managed, will determine the future of the ocean.